St. Patrick (ca. A.D. 385-461) was born -- in Scotland! He was the son
of a high-ranking Roman family, but was carried off into slavery by
Irish marauders when he was 16 and forced into shepherding. While in
captivity in Ireland, though, he learned Celtic and the ways of
Druidism, as his master was a Druid High Priest, two bits of knowledge
that would help him later in evangelizing Irish pagans. He escaped his
master, travelled about a bit -- but desired to return to Ireland to
evangelize, a task he was entrusted with by Pope Celestine I, and a
task at which he was most successful: legend says that he even drove
snakes from that land with a sermon, but that could well be analogical:
the Druids used serpents to symbolize the powers of the earth, and
tattooed their bodies with them.1
St. Patrick used the shamrock as a visual aid
in trying to explain the Trinity -- its three leaves describing the
Three Persons of the Trinity, its being of one stem describing God's
Essence. The shamcrock's general shape also describes the Cross.
Because of this, a 3-leaf clover is St. Patrick's symbol, and a symbol
for the day.
On Station Island in Lough Derg (a lake) in County Donegal, Ireland is
a most interesting place that pertains to our Saint: St. Patrick's
Purgatory. It's said that Patrick St. came upon a cave on the island
and, entering it, experienced a vision of Purgatory. He ordered a
church to be built over the site and entrusted its care to the
Augustinians. The "cave" was actually two connected underground pits --
one about 9 feet long, the second about 5 feet long, neither tall
enough for a tall man to stand in. It became a place of pilgrimage,
with people coming from all over Europe to see what Patrick saw, and to
do penance. They would fast for fifteen days, go to Confession, receive
Communion, and would then be locked in the cave for 24 hours. A number
of accounts of pilgrims' experiences there have come down to us through
the ages, most famously in Tractatus
de Purgatorio Sancti Patricii, written by a Cistercian monk
named H de Saltrey. It tells the tale of a journey made to St.
Patrick's Purgatory by an Irish knight named Owein some time between
1135 and 1154. This account was translated into Old French by Marie de
France, thereby becoming very popular and influential -- possibly
an inspiration to Dante, who wrote of visits to Purgatory, Hell, and
Heaven a few centuries later (you can download a brief re-telling of the story of Owein in
pdf format here).
The "cave" is now locked up, but pilgrimages
are still made to the monastery there to this day.
St. Patrick went to a mountain known as Cruachán Aigle to fast for
forty days and forty nights, in the same spirit that Moses went to Mt.
Sinai. There, he was demonically harrassed by black birds, which he
banished by ringing his bell. Legend has it that, at the end of
Patrick's stay on the mountain, God gave to him the right to judge the
Irish people at the general judgment at the
end of time.
St. Patrick is
buried alongside SS. Brigid
and Columcille (also known as St. Columba) in the yard of Down
Cathedral (now a Church of Ireland cathedral) in County Down, Northern
Ireland. A large granite slab marks their graves. St. Columcille lived
after Patrick and, under the instructions of an angel, opened Patrick's
grave about sixty years after Patrick's death to retrieve three items
to use as relics: St. Patrick's goblet, "The Angel's Gospel," and his
bell. The bell can be seen in the National Museum of Ireland.
Many Catholics prepare for this feast by beginning the Novena to St. Patrick starting on
March 8, and ending on March 16, the eve of his feast.
A beautiful prayer for the feast itself is "St. Patrick's Breast-plate"
Fiada," or the "Lorica of St. Patrick" -- also known as "The Deer's
Cry"). Below is a poetic version of this gorgeous prayer:
I bind unto
The strong name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
I bind this day to me for ever,
By power of faith, Christ's Incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan River;
His death on the Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.
I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the Cherubim;
The sweet 'Well done' in judgment hour;
The service of the Seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.
I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.
I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.
Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.
Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart's idolatry,
Against the wizard's evil craft,
Against the death-wound and the burning
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till thy returning.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.
On "St. Paddy's Day," the Irish -- especially Irish Americans
rowdy. This is the day for listening to Irish music (click here for the lyrics and melodies of a few
standards), and, for Americans, watching the St. Patrick's Day
parade in New York City and being very proud of "being Irish!"
-- a fact you must advertise by the "wearing o' the green," especially
in the form of a shamrock (Trifolium
dubium). Even if you're not Irish,
you can be "Irish" for the day by wearing green and getting into the
spirit of things -- in fact, you "must" or others who see you not
wearing green have a duty to pinch you! You might fly St. Patrick's
flag, too -- a white flag with a red saltire -- X-shaped cross -- on it
(compare to the flags of St. Andrew
and St. George, which together with
St. Patrick's flag form the Union Jack):
outside of abstinence days, it is custom to eat Corned Beef and
Cabbage, served with Irish Soda Bread (called such because baking soda
is its only leaven) and Ale -- and if you want a Gaelic toast to go
with your green beer, just say: "Sláinte is táinte!" (pronounced
SLAWN-chuh iss TAWN-chuh), which means "Health and wealth!" :
and Cabbage (serves 6)
5 lbs. corned beef brisket of beef
12 peppercorns or packaged pickling spices which come on corned beef
5 carrots, peeled and quartered
3 large onions, peeled and quartered
2 lbs. baby new potatoes
1 medium cabbage, cut unto 6 wedges
8 TBSP butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
2 cups chopped fresh parsley
In a large stockpot, place corned beef in water to cover by 2 inches
with peppercorns or pickling spices. Cover; bring to boil, reduce heat
and simmer for 4 hours or until tender, skimming occasionally.
One half hour before serving, place carrots, onions and potatoes in
pot. Cook until vegetables are tender. Add cabbage to pot and cook an
additional 15 minutes.
While vegetables are cooking, heat butter in small saucepan. Add flour
and stir to make a roux. Slowly whisk in milk, salt and pepper. Cook on
low heat until sauce thickens. Add parsley, taste for seasoning.
When ready to serve, place meat on platter and slice thin across the
grain. Place vegetables around platter and top with parsley sauce.
Serve meat with coarse grain mustard and horseradish, if desired.
Irish Soda Bread (1 loaf; serves 6)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 TBSP sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup cold butter
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (substitute 4 teaspoons vinegar plus enough milk
to equal 1 1/4 cups. Let stand 10 minutes.)
Optional: 1/2 cup currants or raisins
Heat oven to 375°F. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda
and salt in large bowl; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse
crumbs. Stir in buttermilk just until moistened (optional: add 1/2 cup
currants or raisins now).
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead gently 10 times. Shape
into ball. Place onto greased baking sheet. Pat into 6-inch circle. Cut
1/2-inch deep Cross in top of dough with sharp knife.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
party is ending, the custom is to "drown the shamrock" by placing the
shamrock one is wearing into one's final glass of Irish whiskey, making
a toast, drinking the whiskey, then tossing the shamrock from the
bottom of the glass over one's left shoulder. Then, when it's finally
time to say goodbye, what a better way to say it
than with this classic Irish blessing?:
May the road
rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.
To read more
about St. Patrick, see The Life of St.
Patrick, Apostle of Ireland (pdf) from this site's Catholic Library.
Confession of St. Patrick
By St. Patrick
1. I, Patrick, a
sinner, most rustic, the least of all the faithful, and utterly
despised by many. My father was Calpornius, a deacon, son of Potitus, a
priest, of the village Bannavem Taburniæ; he had a country seat nearby,
and there I was taken captive.
I was then about sixteen years of age. I did not know the true God. I
was taken into captivity to Ireland with many thousands of people--and
deservedly so, because we turned away from God, and did not keep His
commandments, and did not obey our priests, who used to remind us of
our salvation. And the Lord brought over us the wrath of his anger and
scattered us among many nations, even unto the utmost part of the
earth, where now my littleness is placed among strangers.
2. And there the Lord opened the sense of my unbelief that I might at
last remember my sins and be converted with all my heart to the Lord my
God, who had regard for my abjection, and mercy on my youth and
ignorance, and watched over me before I knew Him, and before I was able
to distinguish between good and evil, and guarded me, and comforted me
as would a father his son.
3. Hence I cannot be silent--nor, indeed, is it expedient--about the
great benefits and the great grace which the lord has deigned to bestow
upon me in the land of my captivity; for this we can give to God in
return after having been chastened by Him, to exalt and praise His
wonders before every nation that is anywhere under the heaven.
4. The Irish Creed of the Trinity
is no other God, nor ever was, nor will be, than God the Father
unbegotten, without beginning, from whom is all beginning, the Lord of
the universe, as we have been taught; and His son Jesus Christ, whom we
declare to have always been with the Father, spiritually and ineffably
begotten by the Father before the beginning of the world, before all
beginning; and by Him are made all things visible and invisible. He was
made man, and, having defeated death, was received into heaven by the
Father; and He has given Him all power over all names in heaven, on
earth, and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess to Him that
Jesus Christ is Lord and God, in whom we believe, an whose advent we
expect soon to be, judge of the living and of the dead, who will render
to every man according to his deeds; and He has poured forth upon us
abundantly the Holy Spirit, the gift and pledge of immortality, who
makes those who believe and obey sons of God and joint heirs with
Christ; and Him do we confess and adore, one God in the Trinity of the
5. For He
Himself has said through the Prophet: Call upon me in the day or they
trouble, and I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. And again He
says: It is honorable to reveal and confess the works of God.
6. Although I am imperfect in many things, I nevertheless wish that my
brethren and kinsmen should know what sort of person I am, so that they
may understand my heart's desire.
7. I know well the testimony of my Lord, who in the Psalm declares:
Thou wilt destroy them that speak a lie. And again He says: The mouth
that betrays kills the soul. And the same Lord ways in the Gospel:
Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for
it on the day of judgment.
8. And so I should dread exceedingly, with fear and trembling, this
sentence on that day when no one will be able to escape or hide, but we
all, without exception, shall have to give an account even of our
smallest sins before the judgment of the Lord Christ.
9. For this reason I had in mind to write, but hesitated until now; I
was afraid of exposing myself to the talk of men, because I have not
studied like the others, who thoroughly imbibed law and Sacred
Scripture, and never had to change from the language of their childhood
days, but were able to make it still more perfect. In our case, what I
had to say had to be translated into a tongue foreign to me, as can be
easily proved from the savor of my writing, which betrays how little
instruction and training I have had in the art of words; for, so says
Scripture, by the tongue will be discovered the wise man, and
understanding, and knowledge, and the teaching of truth.
10. But of what help is an excuse, however true, especially if combined
with presumption, since now, in my old age, I strive for something that
I did not acquire in youth? It was my sins that prevented me from
fixing in my mind what before I had barely read through. But who
believes me, though I should repeat what I started out with?
As a youth, nay, almost as a boy not able to speak, I was taken
captive, before I knew what to pursue and what to avoid. Hence today I
blush and fear exceedingly to reveal my lack of education; for I am
unable to tell my story to those versed in the art of concise
writing--in such a way, I mean, as my spirit and mind long to do, and
so that the sense of my words expresses what I feel.
11. But if indeed it had been given to me as it was given to others,
then I would not be silent because of my desire of thanksgiving; and if
perhaps some people think me arrogant for doing so in spite of my lack
of knowledge and my slow tongue, it is, after all, written: The
stammering tongues shall quickly learn to speak peace.
How much more should we earnestly strive to do this, we, who are, so
Scripture says, a letter of Christ for salvation unto the utmost part
of the earth, and, though not an eloquent one, yet... written in your
hearts, not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God! And again
the Spirit witnesses that even rusticity was created by the Highest.
12. Whence I, once rustic, exiled, unlearned, who does not know how to
provide for the future, this at least I know most certainly that before
I was humiliated I was like a stone Lying in the deep mire; and He that
is mighty came and in His mercy lifted me up, and raised me aloft, and
placed me on the top of the wall. And therefore I ought to cry out
aloud and so also render something to the Lord for His great benefits
here and in eternity--benefits which the mind of men is unable to
13. Wherefore, then, be astonished, you great and little that fear God,
and you men of letters on your estates, listen and pore over this. Who
was it that roused up me, the fool that I am, from the midst of those
who in the eyes of men are wise, and expert in law, and powerful in
word and in everything? And He inspired me--me, the outcast of this
world--before others, to be the man (if only I could!) who, with fear
and reverence and without blame, should faithfully serve the people to
whom the love of Christ conveyed and gave me for the duration of my
life, if I should be worthy; yes indeed, to serve them humbly and
14. In the light, therefore, of our faith in the Trinity I must make
this choice, regardless of danger I must make known the gift of God and
everlasting consolation, without fear and frankly I must spread
everywhere the name of God so that after my decease I may leave a
bequest to my brethren and sons whom I have baptized in the Lord--so
many thousands of people.
15. And I was not worthy, nor was I such that the Lord should grant
this to His servant; that after my misfortunes and so great
difficulties, after my captivity, after the lapse of so many years, He
should give me so great a grace in behalf of that nation--a thing which
once, in my youth, I never expected nor thought of.
16. But after I came to Ireland--every day I had to tend sheep, and
many times a day I prayed--the love of God and His fear came to me more
and more, and my faith was strengthened. And my spirit was moved so
that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and
almost as many in the night, and this even when I was staying in the
woods and on the mountains; and I used to get up for prayer before
daylight, through snow, through frost, through rain, and I felt no
harm, and there was no sloth in me--as I now see, because the spirit
within me was then fervent.
17. And there one night I heard in my sleep a voice saying to me: `It
is well that you fast, soon you will go to your own country.' And
again, after a short while, I heard a voice saying to me: `See, your
ship is ready.' And it was not near, but at a distance of perhaps two
hundred miles, and I had never been there, nor did I know a living soul
there; and then I took to flight, and I left the man with whom I had
stayed for six years. And I went in the strength of God who directed my
way to my good, and I feared nothing until I came to that ship.
18. And the day that I arrived the ship was set afloat, and I said that
I was able to pay for my passage with them. But the captain was not
pleased, and with indignation he answered harshly: `It is of no use for
you to ask us to go along with us.' And when I heard this, I left them
in order to return to the hut where I was staying. And as I went, I
began to pray; and before I had ended my prayer, I heard one of them
shouting behind me, `Come, hurry, we shall take you on in good faith;
make friends with us in whatever way you like.' And so on that day I
refused to suck their breasts for fear of God, but rather hoped they
would come to the faith of Jesus Christ, because they were pagans. And
thus I had my way with them, and we set sail at once.
19. And after three days we reached land, and for twenty-eight days we
traveled through deserted country. And they lacked food, and hunger
overcame them; and the next day the captain said to me: `Tell me,
Christian: you say that your God is great and all-powerful; why, then,
do you not pray for us? As you can see, we are suffering from hunger;
it is unlikely indeed that we shall ever see a human being again.'
I said to them full of confidence: `Be truly converted with all your
heart to the Lord my God, because nothing is impossible for Him, that
this day He may send you food on your way until you be satisfied; for
He has abundance everywhere.' And, with the help of God, so it came to
pass: suddenly a herd of pigs appeared on the road before our eyes, and
they killed many of them; and there they stopped for two nights and
fully recovered their strength, and their hounds received their fill
for many of them had grown weak and were half-dead along the way. And
from that day they had plenty of food. They also found wild honey, and
offered some of it to me, and one of them said: `This we offer in
sacrifice.' Thanks be to God, I tasted none of it.
20. That same night, when I was asleep, Satan assailed me violently, a
thing I shall remember as long as I shall be in this body. And he fell
upon me like a huge rock, and I could not stir a limb. But whence came
it into my mind, ignorant as I am, to call upon Helias? And meanwhile I
saw the sun rise in the sky, and while I was shouting `Helias! Helias'
with all my might, suddenly the splendor of that sun fell on me and
immediately freed me of all misery. And I believe that I was sustained
by Christ my Lord, and that His Spirit was even then crying out in my
behalf, and I hope it will be so on the day of my tribulation, as is
written in the Gospel: On that day, the Lord declares, it is not you
that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaks in you.
21. And once again, after many years, I fell into captivity. On that
first night I stayed with them, I heard a divine message saying to me:
`Two months will you be with them.' And so it came to pass: on the
sixtieth night thereafter the Lord delivered me out of their hands.
22. Also on our way God gave us food and fire and dry weather every
day, until, on the tenth day, we met people. As I said above, we
traveled twenty-eight days through deserted country, and the night that
we met people we had no food left.
23. And again after a few years I was in Britain with my people. who
received me as their son, and sincerely besought me that now at last,
having suffered so many hardships, I should not leave them and go
And there I saw in the night the vision of a man, whose name was
Victoricus, coming as it were from Ireland, with countless letters. And
he gave me one of them, and I read the opening words of the letter,
which were, `The voice of the Irish'; and as I read the beginning of
the letter I thought that at the same moment I heard their voice--they
were those beside the Wood of Foclut, which is near the Western
Sea--and thus did they cry out as with one mouth: `We ask you, boy,
come and walk among us once more.'
And I was quite broken in heart, and could read no further, and so I
woke up. Thanks be to God, after many years the Lord gave to them
according to their cry.
24.And another night--whether within me, or beside me, I know not, God
knoweth--they called me most unmistakably with words which I heard but
could not understand, except that at the end of the prayer He spoke
thus: `He that has laid down His life for you, it is He that speaks in
you'; and so I awoke full of joy.
25. And again I saw Him praying in me, and I was as it were within my
body, and I heard Him above me, that is, over the inward man, and there
He prayed mightily with groanings. And all the time I was astonished,
and wondered, and thought with myself who it could be that prayed in
me. But at the end of the prayer He spoke, saying that He was the
Spirit; and so I woke up, and remembered the Apostle saying: The Spirit
helps the infirmities of our prayer. For we know not what we should
pray for as we ought; but the Spirit Himself asks for us with
unspeakable groanings, which cannot be expressed in words; and again:
The Lord our advocate asks for us.
26. And when I was attacked by a number of my seniors who came forth
and brought up my sins against my laborious episcopate, on that day
indeed was I struck so that I might have fallen now and for eternity;
but the Lord graciously spared the stranger and sojourner for His name
and came mightily to my help in this affliction Verily, not slight was
the shame and blame that fell upon me! I ask God that it may not be
reckoned to them as sin.
27. As cause for proceeding against me they found--after thirty
years!--a confession I had made before I was a deacon. In the anxiety
of my troubled mind I confided to my dearest friend what I had done in
my boyhood one day, nay, in one hour, because I was not yet strong. I
know not, God knoweth--whether I was then fifteen years old: and I did
not believe in the living God, nor did I so from my childhood, but
lived in death and unbelief until I was severely chastised and really
humiliated, by hunger and nakedness, and that daily.
28. On the other hand, I did not go to Ireland of my own accord. not
until I had nearly perished; but this was rather for my good, for thus
was I purged by the Lord; and He made me fit so that I might be now
what was once far from me that I should care and labor for the
salvation of others, whereas then I did not even care about myself.
29. On that day, then, when I was rejected by those referred to and
mentioned above, in that night I saw a vision of the night. There was a
writing without honor against my face, and at the same time I heard
God's voice saying to me: `We have seen with displeasure the face of
Deisignatus' (thus revealing his name). He did not say, `Thou have
seen.' but `We have seen.' as if He included Himself, as He says: He
who touches you touches as it were the apple of my eye.
30. Therefore I give Him thanks who has strengthened me in everything,
as He did not frustrate the journey upon which I had decided, and the
work which I had learned from Christ my Lord; but I rather felt after
this no little strength, and my trust was proved right before God and
31. And so I say boldly, my conscience does not blame me now or in the
future: God is my witness that I have not lied in the account which I
have given you.
32. But the more am I sorry for my dearest friend that we had to hear
what he said. To him I had confided my very soul! And I was told by
some of the brethren before that defence--at which I was not present,
nor was I in Britain, nor was it suggested by me--that he would stand
up for me in my absence. He had even said to me in person: `Look, you
should be raised to the rank of bishop!'--of which I was not worthy.
But whence did it come to him afterwards that he let me down before
all, good and evil, and publicly, in a matter in which he had favored
me before spontaneously and gladly--and not he alone, but the Lord, who
is greater than all?
33. Enough of this. I must not, however, hide God's gift which He
bestowed upon me in the land of my captivity; because then I earnestly
sought Him, and there I found Him, and He saved me from all evil
because--so I believe--of His Spirit that dwells in me. Again, boldly
said. But God knows it, had this been said to me by a man, I had
perhaps remained silent for the love of Christ.
34. Hence, then, I give unwearied thanks to God, who kept me faithful
in the day of my temptation, so that today I can confidently offer Him
my soul as a living sacrifice--to Christ my Lord, who saved me out of
all my troubles. Thus I can say: `Who am I, O Lord, and to what have
Thou called me, Thou who did assist me with such divine power that
to-day I constantly exalt and magnify Thy name among the heathens
wherever I may be, and not only in good days but also in tribulations?'
So indeed I must accept with equanimity whatever befalls me, be it good
or evil, and always give thanks to God, who taught me to trust in Him
always without hesitation, and who must have heard my prayer so that I,
however ignorant I was, in the last days dared to undertake such a holy
and wonderful work--thus imitating somehow those who, as the Lord once
foretold, would preach His Gospel for a testimony to all nations before
the end of the world. So we have seen it, and so it has been fulfilled:
indeed, we are witnesses that the Gospel has been preached unto those
parts beyond which there lives nobody.
35. Now, it would be tedious to give a detailed account of all my
labors or even a part of them. Let me tell you briefly how the merciful
God often freed me from slavery and from twelve dangers in which my
life was at stake--not to mention numerous plots, which I cannot
express in words; for I do not want to bore my readers. But God is my
witness, who knows all things even before they come to pass, as He used
to forewarn even me, poor wretch that I am, of many things by a divine
36. How came I by this wisdom, which was not in me, who neither knew
the number of my days nor knew what God was? Whence was given to me
afterwards the gift so great, so salutary--to know God and to love Him,
although at the price of leaving my country and my parents?
37. And many gifts were offered to me in sorrow and tears, and I
offended the donors, much against the wishes of some of my seniors;
but, guided by God, in no way did I agree with them or acquiesce. It
was not grace of my own, but God, who is strong in me and resists them
all--as He had done when I came to the people of Ireland to preach the
Gospel, and to suffer insult from the unbelievers, hearing the reproach
of my going abroad, and many persecutions even unto bonds, and to give
my free birth for the benefit of others; and, should I be worthy, I am
prepared to give even my life without hesitation and most gladly for
His name, and it is there that I wish to spend it until I die, if the
Lord would grant it to me.
38. For I am very much God's debtor, who gave me such grace that many
people were reborn in God through me and afterwards confirmed, and that
clerics were ordained for them everywhere, for a people just coming to
the faith, whom the Lord took from the utmost parts of the earth, as He
once had promised through His prophets: To Thee the gentiles shall come
from the ends of the earth and shall say: `How false are the idols that
our fathers got for themselves, and there is no profit in them'; and
again: `I have set Thee as a light among the gentiles, that Thou may be
for salvation unto the utmost part of the earth.'
39. And there I wish to wait for His promise who surely never deceives,
as He promises in the Gospel: They shall come from the east and the
west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob--as we
believe the faithful will come from all the world.
40. For that reason, therefore, we ought to fish well and diligently,
as the Lord exhorts in advance and teaches, saying: Come you after me,
and I will make you to be fishers of men. And again He says through the
prophets: Behold, I send many fishers and hunters, says God, and so on.
Hence it was most necessary to spread our nets so that a great
multitude and throng might be caught for God, and that there be clerics
everywhere to baptize and exhort a people in need and want, as the Lord
in the Gospel states, exhorts and teaches, saying: Going therefore now,
teach you all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and
the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things
whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days even
to the consummation of the world. And again He says: Go you therefore
into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that
believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall
be condemned. And again: This Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached
in the whole world for a testimony to all nations, and then shall come
the end. And so too the Lord announces through the prophet, and says:
And it shall come to pass, in the last days, says the Lord, I will pour
out of my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall
prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall
dream dreams. And upon my servants indeed, and upon my handmaids will I
pour out in those days of my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And in
Hosea, He says: `I will call that which was not my people, my people;
...and her that had not obtained mercy, one that has obtained mercy.
And it shall be in the place where it was said: ``You are not my
people,'' there they shall be called the sons of the living God.'
41. Hence, how did it come to pass in Ireland that those who never had
a knowledge of God, but until now always worshipped idols and things
impure, have now been made a people of the Lord, and are called sons of
God, that the sons and daughters of the kings of the Irish are seen to
be monks and virgins of Christ?
42. Among others, a blessed Irishwoman of noble birth, beautiful,
full-grown, whom I had baptized, came to us after some days for a
particular reason: she told us that she had received a message from a
messenger of God, and he admonished her to be a virgin of Christ and
draw near to God. Thanks be to God, on the sixth day after this she
most laudably and eagerly chose what all virgins of Christ do. Not that
their fathers agree with them: no--they often ever suffer persecution
and undeserved reproaches from their parents; and yet their number is
ever increasing. How many have been reborn there so as to be of our
kind, I do not know--not to mention widows and those who practice
But greatest is the suffering of those women who live in slavery. All
the time they have to endure terror and threats. But the Lord gave His
grace to many of His maidens; for, though they are forbidden to do so,
they follow Him bravely.
43. Wherefore, then, even if I wished to leave them and go to
Britain--and how I: would have loved to go to my country and my
parents, and also to Gaul in order to visit the brethren and to see the
face of the saints of my Lord! God knows it! that I much desired it;
but I am bound by the Spirit, who gives evidence against me if I do
this, telling me that I shall be guilty; and I am afraid of losing the
labor which I have begun--nay, not I, but Christ the Lord who bade me
come here and stay with them for the rest of my life, if the Lord will,
and will guard me from every evil way that I may not sin before Him.
44. This, I presume, I ought to do, but I do not trust myself as long
as I am in this body of death, for strong is he who daily strives to
turn me away from the faith and the purity of true religion to which I
have devoted myself to the end of my I life to Christ my Lord. But the
hostile flesh is ever dragging us unto death, that I is, towards the
forbidden satisfaction of one's desires; and I know that in part I did
not lead a perfect life as did the other faithful; but I acknowledge it
to my! Lord, and do not blush before Him, because I lie not: from the
time I came to know Him in my youth, the love of God and the fear of
Him have grown in me, and up to now, thanks to the grace of God, I have
kept the faith.
45. And let those who will, laugh and scorn--I shall not be silent; nor
shall I hide the signs and wonders which the Lord has shown me many
years before they came to pass, as He knows everything even before the
times of the world.
46. Hence I ought unceasingly to give thanks to God who often pardoned
my folly and my carelessness, and on more than one occasion spared His
great wrath on me, who was chosen to be His helper and who was slow to
do as was shown me and as the Spirit suggested. And the Lord had mercy
on me thousands and thousands of times because He saw that I was ready,
but that I did not know what to do in the circumstances. For many tried
to prevent this my mission; they would even talk to each other behind
my back and say: `Why does this fellow throw himself into danger among
enemies who have no knowledge of God?' It was not malice, but it did
not appeal to them because--and to this I own myself--of my rusticity.
And I did not realize at once the grace that was then in me; now I
understand that I should have done so before.
47. Now I have given a simple account to my brethren and fellow
servants who have believed me because of what I said and still say in
order to strengthen and confirm your faith. Would that you, too, would
strive for greater things and do better! This will be my glory, for a
wise son is the glory of his father.
48. You know, and so does God, how I have lived among you from my youth
in the true faith and in sincerity of heart. Likewise, as regards the
heathen among whom I live, I have been faithful to them, and so I shall
be. God knows it, I have overreached none of them, nor would I think of
doing so, for the sake of God and His Church, for fear of raising
persecution against them and all of us, and for fear that through me
the name of the Lord be blasphemed; for it is written: Woe to the man
through whom the name of the Lord is blasphemed.
49. For although I be rude in all things, nevertheless I have tried
somehow to keep myself safe, and that, too, for my Christian brethren,
and the virgins of Christ, and the pious women who of their own accord
made me gifts and laid on the altar some of their ornaments and I gave
them back to them, and they were offended that I did so. But I did it
for the hope of lasting success--in order to preserve myself cautiously
in everything so that they might not seize upon me or the ministry of
my service, under the pretext of dishonesty, and that I would not even
in the smallest matter give the infidels an opportunity to defame or
50. When I baptized so many thousands of people, did I perhaps expect
from any of them as much as half a scruple? Tell me, and I will restore
it to you. Or when the Lord ordained clerics everywhere through my
unworthy person and I conferred the ministry upon them free, if I asked
any of them as much as the price of my shoes, speak against me and I
will return it to you.
51. On the contrary, I spent money for you that they might receive me;
and I went to you and everywhere for your sake in many dangers, even to
the farthest districts, beyond which there lived nobody and where
nobody had ever come to baptize, or to ordain clergy, or to confirm the
people. With the grace of the Lord, I did everything lovingly and
gladly for your salvation.
52. All the while I used to give presents to the kings, besides the
fees I paid to their sons who travel with me. Even so they laid hands
on me and my companions, and on that day they eagerly wished to kill
me; but my time had not yet come. And everything they found with us
they took away, and me they put in irons; and on the fourteenth day the
Lord delivered me from their power, and our belongings were returned to
us because of God and our dear friends whom we had seen before.
53. You know how much I paid to those who administered justice in all
those districts to which I came frequently. I think I distributed among
them not less than the price of fifteen men, so that you might enjoy
me, and I might always enjoy you in God. I am not sorry for it--indeed
it is not enough for me; I still spend and shall spend more. God has
power to grant me afterwards that I myself may be spent for your souls.
54. Indeed, I call God to witness upon my soul that I lie not; neither,
I hope, am I writing to you in order to make this an occasion of
flattery or covetousness, nor because I look for honor from any of you.
Sufficient is the honor that is not yet seen but is anticipated in the
heart. Faithful is He that promised; He never lies.
55. But I see myself exalted even in the present world beyond measure
by the Lord, and I was not worthy nor such that He should grant me
this. I know perfectly well, though not by my own judgment, that
poverty and misfortune becomes me better than riches and pleasures. For
Christ the Lord, too, was poor for our sakes; and I, unhappy wretch
that I am, have no wealth even if I wished for it. Daily I expect
murder, fraud, or captivity, or whatever it may be; but I fear none of
these things because of the promises of heaven. I have cast myself into
the hands of God Almighty, who rules everywhere, as the prophet says:
Cast your thought upon God, and He shall sustain you.
56. So, now I commend my soul to my faithful God, for whom I am an
ambassador in all my wretchedness; but God accepts no person, and chose
me for this office--to be, although among His least, one of His
57. Hence let me render unto Him for all He has done to me. But what
can I say or what can I promise to my Lord, as I can do nothing that He
has not given me? May He search the hearts and deepest feelings; for
greatly and exceedingly do I wish, and ready I was, that He should give
me His chalice to drink, as He gave it also to the others who loved
58. Wherefore may God never permit it to happen to me that I should
lose His people which He purchased in the utmost parts of the world. I
pray to God to give me perseverance and to deign that I be a faithful
witness to Him to the end of my life for my God.
59. And if ever I have done any good for my God whom I love, I beg Him
to grant me that I may shed my blood with those exiles and captives for
His name, even though I should be denied a grave, or my body be
woefully torn to pieces limb by limb by hounds or wild beasts, or the
fowls of the air devour it. I am firmly convinced that if this should
happen to me, I would have gained my soul together with my body,
because on that day without doubt we shall rise in the brightness of
the sun, that is, in the glory of Christ Jesus our Redeemer, as sons of
the living God and joint heirs with Christ, to be made conformable to
His image; for of Him, and by Him, and in Him we shall reign.
60. For this sun which we see rises daily for us because He commands
so, but it will never reign, nor will its splendor last; what is more,
those wretches who adore it will be miserably punished. Not so we, who
believe in, and worship, the true sun--Christ--who will never perish,
nor will he who does His will; but he will abide for ever as Christ
abides for ever, who reigns with God the Father Almighty and the Holy
Spirit before time, and now, and in all eternity. Amen.
61. Behold, again and again would I set forth the words of my
confession. I testify in truth and in joy of heart before God and His
holy angels that I never had any reason except the Gospel and its
promises why I should ever return to the people from whom once before I
62. I pray those who believe and fear God, whosoever deigns to look at
or receive this writing which Patrick, a sinner, unlearned, has
composed in Ireland, that no one should ever say that it was my
ignorance if I did or showed forth anything however small according to
God's good pleasure; but let this be your conclusion and let it so be
thought, that--as is the perfect truth--it was the gift of God. This is
my confession before I die.
1 St. Patrick drove "the snakes" out of
Ireland, but they returned just after Ireland legalized abortion in
2018. "The snakes" have returned to the Emerald Isle, both literally